On Sunday, two Minneapolis City councilmembers demanded publicly that the mayor include abortion funding in his upcoming budget proposal.
Minneapolis City Councilmembers Aisha Chughtai and Robin Wonsley launched a campaign alongside two pro-abortion groups to urge Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey to fund abortions. The strength of their demands were bolstered by speeches from the state’s top Democratic leadership: Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05), Minnesota House Majority Whip Kaohly Vang Her (DFL-64A), State Senator Jen McEwen (DFL-07) issued to the thousands of civilians and 16 activist organizations protesting for abortion rights outside the Minnesota State Capitol.
In a speech on the capitol steps, Omar excoriated the “fundamentalist,” “religious right” for being against abortion. She denied the legitimacy of the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) for their ruling which denied the existence of a constitutional right to abortion. Omar urged attendees to fight back against the government to maintain rights to abortion, contraception, gay marriage, and transgenderism.
“Let me be clear: just like in Congress, [your rights] can go away in the blink of an eye. So if you don’t want to go back to a time when old, ultra-conservative white men decide what you do with your body, you have to fight back with us,” declared Omar.
In her speech, Vang Her claimed that a crisis pregnancy center advised her to keep her ectopic pregnancy, eliciting boos from the audience. Vang Her claimed that she underwent a dilation and curettage (D&C) abortion to end the ectopic pregnancy. Treatment for an ectopic pregnancy is not the same an abortion.
“I cannot sit by and allow a system to exist where my two daughters have less rights to their bodies and options for their reproductive care than I did,” said Vang Her.
McEwen was joined in attendance by other members of the newly-created Reproductive Freedom Caucus in the state legislature: State Senator Lindsey Port (DFL-56), Senate Assistant Minority Leader Mary Kunesh (DFL-41), and State Representative Kelly Morrison (DFL-33B). During her speech, McEwen pledged that the caucus would remove barriers to abortion in Minnesota and to make abortion more affordable and accessible.
The 16 groups that helped organize Sunday’s protest were Pro-Choice Minnesota, Jewish Community Action, First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, TakeAction Minneapolis, Minnesota NOW, Gender Justice, Our Justice (formerly Pro-Choice Resources), Planned Parenthood Minnesota, Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, Whole Woman’s Health, Hand Over the Decision It’S Healthcare (HOTDISH) Militia, National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) Minnesota, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Minnesota, OutFront Minnesota, UnRestrict Minnesota, and Women’s March Minnesota.
Maggie Meyer, executive director for Pro-Choice Minnesota, said in a statement to Patch that Frey promised to make Minneapolis a haven for abortion, and that full funding was the only way to realize that promise.
“We’re calling on Mayor Frey to affirm his commitment to making Minneapolis a ‘safe haven’ for abortion access through direct funding, because without financial support the legal right is not sufficient in ensuring that people can actually access the abortion care they need,” stated Meyer.
Frey issued his “safe haven” promise in May after Politico published the leaked SCOTUS opinion overruling Roe v. Wade.
“We will always be a haven for people that need the full scope of health care services which, of course, includes abortion,” stated Frey. “We will do everything possible to make sure that is the case indefinitely.”
He repeated the sentiment late last month.
“Abortion is health care. I will say that again and again,” tweeted Frey. “The women of our country and our city deserve the right to choose what happens to their own body.”
Abortion is health care. I will say that again and again. The women of our country and our city deserve the right to choose what happens to their OWN body. MPLS will continue to be a haven for those seeking an abortion.
— Mayor Jacob Frey (@MayorFrey) June 24, 2022
Although Frey hasn’t weighed in on whether he will include abortion funding in his budget, the mayor considers abortion to be health care and a right.
Abortion is healthcare and a right. I love to see our community stand together on all days, but especially today. pic.twitter.com/pLt7nSscFy
— Mayor Jacob Frey (@MayorFrey) May 3, 2022